Outlander's Sam Heughan Takes JJ's Spotlight - Scotland Edition! (Exclusive Pics)
The 34-year-old Scottish actor takes the lead in the brand new series Outlander, which was shot in his home country. The show has been getting absolute rave reviews and is a total must-see. Be sure to tune in this Saturday (August 9) at 9/8c on Starz to catch this heartthrob in action as Jamie Fraser.
Sam was photographed at the historic Dumbarton Castle, which has been in existence as far back as 1500 years! Fun fact about the castle, it sits atop a volcanic rock overlooking the Firth of Clyde. The castle has also acted as a refuge for royals over the years.
During our interview with Sam, we chatted about his upbringing in a rural section of Scotland, being named after a Lord of the Rings character, his favorite Scottish pasttime (hint: it’s not golf!), and of course, Outlander.
Click inside for our complete exclusive interview with Sam Heughan…
Sam Heughan Interview – JustJared.com Exclusive
Just Jared: What was it like being born and raised in Scotland?
Sam Heughan: I was born in the Southwest of Scotland, in a place called Dumfires and Galloway, and I was actually raised in old converted stables in a castle grounds. It was not one as glamorous as the one we’re shooting in today, but it was amazing. I used to play there as a boy and pretend I was King of Scotland.
JJ: Is that how you got into acting? Because of the surroundings and the pretending?
SH: Absolutely. I didn’t have many friends at school because there was no one here. There were four other children in my class at school until I was like 14 years old. So I guess I spent a lot of time on my own and had to use my imagination, and I think that definitely goes towards acting.
JJ: How were you named? I heard it was from a Lord of the Rings character, is that true?
SH: Yeah, it kind of is. My mum and dad were very much into Lord of the Rings, and my father called me Samwise. They were also in a band called Gandolf’s Garden, and I think they were… My brother was also named after one of the elves in Lord of the Rings too.
JJ: What’s your brother’s name?
SH: Called Cirdan. And he’s the elf at the end of Lord of the Rings that builds the boats and all the elves leave to go to Middle Earth.
JJ: How was the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland?
SH: It’s in Glasgow where we’re shooting, and I went there from 2000-2003 to study acting. I really wanted to go to a place in London, and it was called the Drama Centre, and I was really excited about going there. But then I auditioned in Scotland as well, and as soon as I went there, I just felt like this is the place for me. It just felt so comfortable. I really liked the facilities and it has a lot of links to Scottish theater, and I’ve worked a lot in Scottish theater since.
JJ: What was your first Scottish acting experience?
SH: My first experience was playing a bird in the Christmas production of the Twits. I was 20. I wore a corset, and high heels, and a spangly like flares, tight flares… It was quite a costume.
JJ: So you went to acting school and then you started getting into productions?
SH: Yeah, I went to drama school, and then I left. Actually, my second year I did a show in the Edinburgh Festival that we then toured to London. We went to Royal Court Theatre. I toured it for a year. Then we went to Toronto. We toured all around the UK and in Scotland as well. And then from that I got my agent and just started working.
JJ: How did you know you wanted to go to drama school? What convinced you growing up that you wanted to be an actor?
SH: I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor straight away. I know I wanted to be in it, but I didn’t think I could; that I could make money out of it. Then I took two years out after school, went traveling, went to America, went to Europe. I traveled around for a long time. And then I just joined a youth theatre in Scotland, where I started working with them and doing productions and I realized that this is what I want to do.
JJ: What’s your favorite Scottish pasttime?
SH: It’s not golf. It’s probably drinking. That’s a favorite Scottish pasttime. I also like climbing mountains. I love hill walking, and since I’ve been back in Scotland, I’ve done a lot. I walk on Munros, which is like this certain height, they’ve got to be over a thousand meters. And yeah, I’ve climbed over some beautiful mountains. The hikes are about four hours. You can do them a little bit quicker, but you’ve got to be pretty fit.
JJ: Congratulations on Outlander. What drew you to the project?
SH: Thank you. I am a big fan of Ron Moore’s. I love Battlestar Galactica, and I love Sci-fi, and I love Star Trek. So when I found out he was on board, that was a definite winner for me. And then also, I love productions that are based on books or on history. I’ve done a lot of period dramas, lots of 1940s stuff, or earlier. So to be able to have that material to then access when you’re filming is just, it’s a real benefit for an actor.
JJ: Can you describe your character?
SH: Yeah, I play Jamie Fraser, who is a warrior, farmer, who lives in 18th century Scotland, and he’s part of the clan. He meets Claire, who is transported back in time, and basically through necessity, they have to get married. And kind of following their journey through the highlands of Scotland.
JJ: Do you have a favorite prop from set?
SH: Probably my horse. He’s not really a prop, in fact, he’s got a life of his own. But I love him. I’ve actually got two horses now. I had to learn horse riding for the job, and I absolutely love it. It’s great fun.
JJ: What are their names?
SH: Sleepy is my main horse, and he’s awesome. Nothing scares him, nothing phases him, he’s very, very intelligent. The other one is called Pinocchio, who’s like a stallion, and he constantly dribbles on my sleeve, and bites me. So yeah…
JJ: What’s your favorite off screen moment?
SH: It’s probably the locations we film at. We film in some stunning locations, and you’ll see it in the series. We go up into the highlands, there are amazing mountain tops covered in snow. The rivers, the sea.
JJ: What’s the steamiest scene you’ve filmed?
SH: In the books and in the series there’s a lot of fun had between myself and the main character Claire. It’s kind of part of their relationship. It’s you know, how they get to know each other and discovering each other. And I think they’re pretty hot.
JJ: What kind of training have you received for this specific role?
SH: Wow. obviously we had a lot of sword fighting.
JJ: I heard you’re a licensed fencer.
SH: I am a licensed fencer, yes. I can teach. I’ve got a coaching sticker as well so I can teach it too.
JJ: So that helped a lot?
SH: It doesn’t actually, because it’s a completely different kind of sword fighting. We dual. There’s a quite a bit of sword fighting towards the end as well. Also learning to speak Gaelic. We have a lot of Gaelic in the show, which is obviously the Scottish tongue. It’s very difficult. I had to train a lot, had to go to the gym a lot as well, so it’s been great fun, it’s been a real adventure.
JJ: Did you know any Gaelic before?
SH: I knew one word, which was “Oidhche mhath,” which is Good Evening. From watching the news. (laughs)
JJ: What’s your physical routine like? You walked in with a protein shake earlier.
SH: I did. (laughs) I must have poured half of it down myself. Yeah, I had a trainer for six weeks in London before we even started. Then we had a boot camp. I put on two stone. Which is, I don’t know how much in pounds. I think it’s 15 pounds, I don’t know. Anyway, two stone in weight. It’s kind of hard with filming, you have to fit it in and around. It’s pretty intense. Lots of heavy lifting, and not much cardio. It’s good fun.
JJ: You wear a lot of kilts in the series, I hear you had a custom one made?
SH: Yeah. I’ve got a custom one made with the tartans of the show, which was specifically made for us. It’s the MacKenzie tartan. And I have this modern kilt that I wear. But in the show, we also have the long kilt, the “fèileadh” it’s called in Gaelic, and it’s at least seven to nine feet long. And you have to fold up the pleats in the back, and then lie down on the floor, fold it around yourself and put your belt on. So it’s quite a hard process to do in the trailer in the morning. But yeah, they’re great fun to wear.
JJ: Did you read any of the books before you auditioned?
SH: Yeah, I knew it was based on the books so I got sent a lot of pages that I had to learn very quickly. I didn’t get a chance to read the whole book, but I certainly looked to specific scenes before my first audition. And then I had a chance to read the book when I was called back. Diana Gabaldon, who’s written the books, she’s been very supportive and she’s been a great help. She’s also sent to me lots of information and we’ve been talking a lot. Yeah, she’s admirable.
JJ: Who are the “Heughligans”?
SH: They are the best fan group I think I’ve ever encountered! They started when I was, I think pretty much announced for the show. And they’ve gathered more and more followers. They’ve raised thousands of dollars for my charity, leukemia and lymphoma research. They’re just so much fun.
JJ: Why is that charity so dear to your heart?
SH: I’ve been associated with them for a while. I used to do a lot of endurance sports and they have a celebrity team and I used to run and do triathlons with them. So we’ve adopted them, and I know, I’ve just adopted another one. It’s the Promote Youth Theatre in Scotland as well. Yeah, I’m trying to do as much as we can.
JJ: What’s been the craziest fan experience that you’ve encountered so far?
SH: Oh wow. Well, the most recent one was myself and a few of the crew members, unbeknownst to Starz, went off to do Tough Mudder, which is an obstacle assault course. And as I was climbing under barbed wire, in the mud, on the first obstacle, some woman was shouting my name, going “Go go Sam, go Sam!” And I was like how did she know who I was? A few of them turned up and supported us, which was great.
JJ: Do you have any fun summer plans?
SH: Hopefully I will be in the sun, possibly in Los Angeles. And yeah, I think I’m going to chill out on the beach and become a beach bum.
JJ: What kind of music are you listening to these days?
SH: I went to a concert Friday night. A Scottish band called We Were Promised Jetpacks, and they’re kind of like post punk, kind of rock. And they absolutely destroyed the place, and I love them.
JJ: Any television shows that you follow religiously?
SH: Yeah, I’m currently watching Vikings. I just finished, what have I just finished? Game of Thrones of course. Yeah, I love American TV shows, they’re great.
JJ: Any movies that you’ve been loving lately?
SH: What’s the last movie I saw? Wow, I can’t even remember the last time I went to the cinema. Oh, I saw that Tom Cruise movie, Edge of Tomorrow. Which I actually really enjoyed. I love sci-fi stuff, and I really enjoyed that movie, it was good.
JJ: Who are some of your favorite actors?
SH: I started off in theater, so a lot of my idols are theater actors in Scotland. And then I was very fortunate to have worked with some of them and that’s been great. But on our show, we’ve got some amazing actors. Bill Paterson, John Heffernan, Simon Callow. These are actors that I look up to, Gary Lewis. And to be part of that is just incredible.
JJ: Who’s your favorite person to follow on Instagram?
SH: On Instagram, I probably shouldn’t answer that but I follow a female fitness guru and she’s, she posts some pretty interesting pictures.
JJ: Do you have a favorite person to follow on Twitter?
SH: I follow so many people on Twitter but Diana Gabaldon is a great follow. She posts a lot and she has some quite witty banters as well. She’s kind of good fun.
PHOTO SHOOT CREDITS (PICTURES BELOW) —–
Photo 1: Diesel sweater, Levi‘s shirt, Alternative tank, and PRPS pants.
Photos 2, 4, and 6: Alternative shirt, Vintage shorts and suspenders, Vintage socks, Ariat shoes, and Sandast leather cuff.
Photo 3: H&M coat and sweater, Giorgio Armani blazer and Armani jeans.
Photo 5: Diesel jacket, Jacob Davis shirt, and his own kilt.